My Review of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – 5 Stars

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Information from Goodreads:

It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between 17 million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.

Hardcover, 304 pagesPublished July 14th 2015 by Gallery / Saga Press (first published April 10th 2014)

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My Rating: 5 Stars

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My Review of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

5/5 stars

I know I say a lot of stories are unique, maybe it’s just because I’ve been fortunate enough to come across such jewels but this book deserves such a description more than most.

Ayodele smiled and nodded, gazing into the camera. Adaora shivered. If there was any strong hint of the alien in Ayodele’s appearance, it was in her eyes. When Adaora looked into them, she felt unsure… of everything. A college friend of hers used to say that everything human beings perceived as real was only a matter of the information their bodies recorded.

From Lagoon

Nnedi Okorafor is a very talented and imaginative writer. I will continue to look forward to and gravitate towards her work. Much like one of the main characters in this book, a female marine biologist resident of Lagos Nigeria, Okorafor is an explorer and scientist of “what if”.

But the air really did shiver. And as I stood there, it came right at me. There was no physical breeze; it came like a ghost. Then it washed over me like a great wave of water. When it passed, I felt drenched, heavy.

From Lagoon

This story takes place in Lagos, Nigeria with an almost completely Nigerian cast. I loved this opportunity to visit far outside the world I know. I’m so happy that she went ahead with including large amounts of Pidgin English and other slang as I really enjoyed being fully transported to another time and place. Aliens have landed in the ocean off Lagos with the goal of making contact with the locals, among other things. What will they do? What do they do, the Lagosians and the aliens? Such stories as this really make you wonder, what would we do? Do you think people would panic? Who do you know who might at least try to welcome them? Who might outright reject their existence even as they stand before you?

His aunts were excited to have so many to cook for, and they happily went to the kitchen to get to it. Nevertheless, his mother’s face looked pained. She must have had a feeling that this situation went beyond the family. Beyond their beliefs. Beyond their religion.

From Lagoon

Her story is not one I’ve ever read before, not the aliens or their mission, or their skills. If I have heard such a story it would only be similar, but not anywhere the same. I really enjoyed her focus on the ocean as well as the sea creatures interaction with the aliens. That detail alone is unlike other first contact stories.

This story is an accessible easy read and it feels real even as I’ve never seen or met aliens nor have I been to Nigeria. The author is herself Nigerian-American so we have the privilege of reading an own-voices story. I read with a new perspective since I read this during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is violence, mention of sex acts, and strong language.

The story’s structure and voice are also different. I liked the bits from the perspective of animals or various people out and about on the street in addition to switching between main characters. I also enjoyed all of the characters even if we didn’t dive all that deep into them. This story didn’t seem to need that. Even if you find fault in some parts of the story I think you will enjoy it and its originality. Also it’s fast-paced, something is always happening. This book has interesting curves and angles. I recommend this to all fans of sci-fi/fantasy especially first contact, African culture, and ocean stuff. 🙂

Aman iman, Adaora weakly thought. The phrase meant “water is life” in the Tuareg language of Tamashek. She’d once worked with a Tuareg man on a diving expedition. “Aman Iman,” had been his answer when Adaora asked how a man of the Sahara Desert had become an expert scuba diver.

From Lagoon

You might recall my review of Binti, another of Nnedi Okorafor’s books that I loved. I shamefully admit I kind of forgot about it just after I was in the midst of planning to order it. (That felt complicated to say. That’s probably how I forgot. 😉 ) Don’t worry, I will, oh yes I WILL make my way back to it. I’m still planning to re-read The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.5) Mainly because it deserves it, I read it a while ago and I forgot I’d already read it when I came across Binti. Yes that’s all weird of me, don’t be surprised.

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But never mind that, check this information out in the author’s bio on Goodreads:

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based projects in development for film and TV – including HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer. Okorafor is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu for Amazon Prime Video, with Viola Davis producing. Her novel Akata Warrior (of the Akata Series) is the winner of the Lodestar and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/588356.Nnedi_Okorafor

Wow and heck yeah! This woman is making some waves and I am enjoying having the privilege of experiencing them. I encourage you all to check out some or all of her work. Upon finishing this book I’ve started Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1), her YA/children’s fantasy series. I already have both books in the series and am looking forward to reading them. Stay tuned for my reaction to Akata Witch later this month.

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And don’t forget to visit Nnedi Okorafor’s website and add her books to your TBR, Goodreads and otherwise.

Also if you do add her and her books to your list as a result of recommendation, I would so appreciate it if you could give me a shout-out, link back here. I’m all about giving credit where credit’s do, so if you refer me to a book I do not hesitate to give you credit. I do my best to keep notes when I visit other bloggers, listen to podcasts, read articles, talk to people, friends, family and they interest me in books and/or authors. Then I link to and/or mention said person/group/publication when I post about adding the book/author. As I said above I read the Book of Phoenix a while ago and later heard of Binti through at least one podcast, including Writing Excuses.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours, whether you liked the book or not, or are just now adding this to your TBR. Or maybe you’ve read other books by Nnedi Okorafor, let’s chat! 😀

If you want to know what I think about other books I’ve read please VISIT THIS PAGE. Or if you want to know what my upcoming reading plans are CLICK HERE. I try to keep everything up to date as best I can, so stay tuned, follow me, for updates. 😀

Bye for now. I hope you and yours are safe and well.

Here’s What’s Up: Saturday Update & April Wrap Up

So guys, how ya doing? It’s Saturday although Saturdays don’t hold quite the same sentiment these days – would you agree – it still feels good in theory. We’ve had kind of a rainy, groggy week which oddly enough echoed through a lot of our moods. However this weekend is already GORGEOUS as far as weather goes.

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So Here’s What’s Up: There’s a lot to be grateful for in addition to sunshine and a warm weekend. I’m grateful for audio books – just finished Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse, loved it, better than the first and highly recommend – and physical books – I read Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee, which was very moving as well as Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, an intriguing novella, both recommended. I’m grateful for the time and capacity to read and listen to them. In March I started What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra and finished at the beginning of April. One thing I enjoyed about this book and Catching Teller Crow was that they were fairly simple and by simple I mean the language was accessible and I would say direct.

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The plots were original, intriguing but not overly complicated. I don’t mind complicated writing or stories but it’s nice to read something straightforward and easy. Ironically both of these books focused on characters who had their fathers (in some respect) but had lost their mothers. The main characters’ relationships with their fathers are central to the plot. Both protagonists are young women, one is 15 the other I think 19, who are going through some kind of transition in their lives while trying to balance their inner struggles. What I really appreciate about how these characters were written is that they felt true to life, even as one is a ghost (that’s not a spoiler). Some YA books turn me off because I feel they exaggerate the lives and abilities of young adults. Perhaps I’ve not used the right word here. I’m not trying to say teenagers and young adults are like children, or they’re weak or incapable of leading extraordinary lives and adventures. No, that’s not what I’m saying. But it seems like most YA’s focus on young people enduring journeys, trials and tasks that would be difficult for older adults with more life experience. And yet, the young people do just fine, for the most part. A lot of the time I read YA novels (not that I read a ton) I tend to forget I’m reading about a 16 year old or an 18 year old. I’m thinking of one story in particular (I will not name, I did like it though for the most part) in which the main character goes from a sheltered little girl to a wise, ass-kicking, lover, queen and warrior in the span of a year or two and we’re talking young teen. It just didn’t ring true. I struggle with stories that suddenly toss in a scene about how young (usually a girl) the character is when all along they act like much more experienced individuals, even though as in the case above they might be a very sheltered individual with little life experience. That’s a big reason why I try to shy away from YA.

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That said, Catching Teller Crow and What the Woods Keep didn’t do that. Their characters felt far more true to life than many if not most other books I’ve read about younger ladies. Beth in Catching Teller Crow read like a 15-year old to me. The authors didn’t try to make her something else, to make her better or stronger. She was herself and perfect as she was. She was a 15 year old girl. The character in What the Woods Keep was a little older and read as such. Sure she had to be braver and maybe some things might feel like a stretch but they weren’t unrealistic in my humble opinion. Check these books out, then come back and tell me what you think. 😀

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About a week or so ago I finished listening to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is an epic fantasy, so it’s very long and I think long books make great audio books. For one it gives you a chance to settle in to the narrator and their various performances. I also find it easier to finish, it’s less daunting. I listen while driving, working in the yard or around the house, even walking the dog sometimes. Do use caution while listening to audio books and doing other things, better to be distracted away from the book than the task at hand. This was a great story, no doubt. The only reason I’m giving it 4.5 stars is because I think maybe it’s a little too long. However Patrick Rothfuss is a very good writer, the skill and talent is there. The characters are interesting and well-rounded, at least the most important for sure. The plot is pretty cool but sometimes I feel like I lose track of what’s actually going on as most of the story takes place as a retelling of the journey that brought our main character to the present time. Again though I have to say it is a very good story. I’m nervous to start the next book which is equally as long because everyone has been waiting on the promised third book for a long time I’ve heard. Today I visited Rothfuss’ website to see if there was any news. But all he said was when there is news he’ll be sure to share it.

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Oh and to be technically correct, I also finished Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare (started in March). Sorry, but no I do not recommend it and I will not continue the series.

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At present I’m reading the hardcover copy of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, not quite halfway through it but it’s pretty cool. It’s set in Lagos, Nigeria with a large diverse cast of characters. A unique story no doubt, something I see Okorafor does not fail to deliver. 🙂 When I finish Lagoon I plan to read Akata Witch, a yound adult, middle grade (I’ve seen it referred as both?) story, the first in a duology, also by Okorafor.

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I’ve not yet decided on my next audio book. For some reason I have a tendency towards wanting to start something new and fresh so I feel a weird aversion towards starting the sequel to The Ruin of Kings, The Name of the Wind or Strange the Dreamer. Lol. I think it’s kind of funny of me, but yeah. Probably I need a break from The Name of the Wind so I’ll likely go with The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons as my next audio book. I do believe the third book is due out this October. 🙂

I am also still reading Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson, and over there on the couch is Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan and over on that shelf is The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman.

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Aside from my reading my novel work has been…meh. I’m a little stuck with some details going forward regarding where things are going. Feels like I’ve been saying that for a little too long. I have no doubt I’ll break through this, I just need to focus harder and knuckle down, something I plan to do this weekend. With over 200k words I feel good, lots to edit, but there’s still a ton of work to be done. I did figure out that one of my characters, a retired schoolteacher is now a yoga instructor. Hey, what can I say, that detail came to me and I think it makes sense, it’s a good cover for what else she’s doing. 😉

There’s a lot of emotion in this thing, a lot of energy. I think it would help me to put more of my own emotions to work this weekend. This whole coronavirus situation has been beating at my brain and heart this week as I think about the future. How long, for real, until everyone is safe? What about all the high risk people? What about all the people who care only for themselves and their situation? What will happen to people who rush the process? What about the people who are quietly suffering, the people who are keeping their fears to themselves and not talking about them lest they worry someone else? How can we help each other’s mental health?

These are some of my questions. These questions are good to think about, not ruminate on but just consider. And I’ve found for a person such as myself, a creative among other things, that putting these emotions and questions, this soul-digging (as I’ll call it) to work for me and my work is one of the best things I can do. How am I feeling? How can I apply that to what my characters are going through to make it more authentic and deep? When I put my own emotions to work it helps me, it helps me in a ton of ways. So when I am feeling all over the place, stuck, down, up, everything, I think, I have got to write something. A lot of times I don’t do that but when I do, man I’m glad I did (like exercise). 😉

What else? Well I’m working on my raised garden beds, first time ever doing this but not my first go round with a garden, just my first garden in a very long time. I’m stoked! My diet and fitness goals/plans got a little off track in April but I’m set to get back on the wagon! Woo hoo! I’ll restart some kind of daily yoga and exercise regimen and hopefully start running again sooner than later.

That’s it for now but stay tuned for some book reviews, a TBR update, expected reading (basically the same as I shared before), some images (I’m going to return to sharing some of my hobby photography, at least just using it in posts), flash fiction, and I’m going to start a regular short fiction column as well.

Cool please feel free to comment, I do love to chat. Bye for now, I hope you all stay safe and well and have a lovely weekend.

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My Review of Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee (A Novel)

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info from goodreads:

Two Chinese-American sisters—Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia impetuously plows ahead, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until, inevitably, she crashes to earth.

Miranda leaves her own self-contained life in Switzerland to rescue her sister again—but only Lucia can decide whether she wants to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans—but what does it take to break them?

Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, an immigrant story, and a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it’s also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone—and when loyalty to one’s self must prevail over all.

Paperback, 368 pages – Published January 16th 2018 by Pamela Dorman Books

Goodreads Choice Nominee for fiction and for Debut Author (2018)

Contemporary fiction, mental illness, mention of sexual acts

My rating: 5 stars

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My Review

I know there are a number of other books I’ve read and said I’d review but never have. But I’ve decided I’m not going to put this off only to add it to the queue of reviews I owe you. 😉

Contemporary fiction is not my usual choice of reading. It’s still not, but I easily make exceptions for certain topics. In this case, it’s the matter of mental illness, as one of the main characters, the younger sister has a serious mental illness. I don’t recall how I first discovered this book but I got a paperback copy from Book Outlet over a year ago. In 2019 I said I’d read it, in 2020 I finally did and I’m so glad. I’m not sure what I expected but I got more than what I could have. Let’s just say I almost cried, almost because I resisted the urge to but it was there.

On the cover author Celeste Ng (author of Little Sparks Everywhere) calls this story, “A tender but unflinching portrayal of the bond between two sisters.” This story is that and so much more. My take home message was there’s always more than one side to a story and you don’t know just what another person is going through internally.

I was curious during and after reading this about Mira T. Lee’s experience with mental illness. She writes intense scenes of the younger sister experiencing psychosis. The younger sister in this story does not receive a pinpointed diagnosis rather they say it might be schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, maybe both. As I do not have experience with either, I had to wonder. So when I finished it last night I did a tiny bit of research about her.

On her website she provides links to interviews she’s done. On the site Bloom, Terry Hong interviewed Mira T. Lee in January 2018. Please follow THIS LINK to read the whole Q&A interview. When asked why she chose a taboo subject and how she researched Mira said this:

Mental illness is a subject matter that’s extremely close to my heart, since I’ve seen members of my own family struggle with it. Schizophrenia, in particular, is still one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized illnesses out there, and I’d rarely seen a well-rounded portrayal of it in literature – particularly one that addresses how it affects family members, in addition to the individual with the illness. I wanted to explore the conflicts that this illness can cause, and the ways it can wreak havoc on families… I pulled a lot from my own family experiences with mental illness, but I also read a lot of memoirs, as well as online blogs, particularly firsthand accounts of psychosis. And I spoke with medical professionals about the more technical aspects. I’d also attended a lot of family support groups, so I had a strong sense of the issues and frustrations experienced by loved ones.”

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This story is told from multiple perspectives, the older sister, the younger sister, boyfriend, husband. It’s really interesting to read about this subject and the characters’ experiences from their various points of view. It’s such an intense story particularly because the author succeeded in showing how the different people are affected. It’s true that your heart will break for them all even as they might frustrate you at times.

Mira T. Lee’s cast of characters include two Chinese-American sisters, a one-armed Russian Jew, a Swiss man, and an Ecuadorian man, among others. But she said in the above interview that:

At some point early on, I did wonder if I should make my characters non-Asian (i.e. white), but that didn’t feel true to me. These multicultural worlds are what I’ve known in my own life, so it made sense that it should be reflected in my writing.

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It’s fair to say, IMHO, that she also succeeded in writing a well-rounded portrayal. Parts of this story take place in NewYork, Switzerland, and Ecuador (among a few others). Here are some excerpts from pages I dog-eared.

In Crote Six, they said I “suffer” from schizoaffective disorder. That’s like the sampler plate of diagnoses, Best of Everything.

But I don’t want to suffer. I want to live.

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia

When we reach the playground, Nipa confides to me that her doctor thinks she’s suffering from postpartum depression.

I’m floored. First, she is telling me. Second, she’s wearing makeup and her hair is clean, and her Natey is perfectly cherubic with his rolls of chin fat and cream bun cheeks.

“It’s weird,” she says. “In all these years, no one’s ever told me I suffered from cancer. I’m a fighter. A survivor, you know.”

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia, listening to her friend Nipa

I’m flustered, confused. For a second my brain feels like it’s full of holes. She waits expectantly. But what would it be, I wonder, to conduct one’s life as a Chinese life instead of just a life? I speak Chinese, I cook Chinese food, practice tai-chi on occasion and drink oolong tea, but to flaunt one’s authenticity seems terribly gauche. I’m human first, aren’t I? Aren’t we all?

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia, in a job interview

There are many more pages that I dog-eared because of what the scenes mean to me, how she wrote them and turned the story so the reader could see from a different angle, of course, among other things. But I think this is long enough, hopefully I’ve made my case as to why you might want to check this out and learn more about the human experience. Also, those excerpts could spoil the story for you and I don’t want to do that.

If you’ve already read this, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Or if you’re going to read this, let me know, then come back and let’s talk about it. In my humble opinion, it’s a great book, full of intense emotions and scenes, some sexual bits and talk here and there, talk of pregnancy matters (not a spoiler), moments of psychosis, and matters of immigration.

Imbolo Mbue, author of the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning Behold the Dreamers is quoted on the back fo the book saying, “A compassionate debut…an aching yet hopeful story.” Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation, is also quoted calling it “A heart-wrenching novel. Powerful and unforgettable.”

Yes, it is all those things.

To read more reviews of mine CLICK HERE. If you like the style of this review over the others, you can let me know that too. I don’t usually include excerpts. Maybe this was a product of reading contemporary and being so emotionally impacted. Maybe I’ll do this more often when I really like a book.

Okay I’m off. Stay safe and well. WAIT, one more thing, this book comes at just the right time for me. Being under a stay-at-home order and reading about all that is happening has taught me a lot. I’ve learned that it’s really easy to be selfish (that’s not a new lesson, but one that needs re-learning from time to time) and that we have to be more compassionate. This isn’t about any one of us, this is about ALL OF US. We have to be careful and safe for each other, not just ourselves. You might think you or your town isn’t affected, really, but the truth is, your community is. Can your small town handle an outbreak if it happened? What about immune-suppressed folks who can’t leave the house? Don’t you think they want to go back to life too? But they really can’t until they’re more sure than not the coast is clear. If you’re upset about how your life has been impacted, remember this isn’t all about you or any one person or family.

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If you or someone you know is mentally ill or might be struggling with their mental health please visit NAMI – The National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is one of the great resources Mira T. Lee uses.

20 Questions Book Tag

Hello there peoples of the world, how are you? How was your weekend? Mine was good, simple and quiet. I’m healthy and I’m happy, it’s just that there have been some up and down days this week. Mood jumps can be exhausting. It’s like my mind is doing jumping jacks sometimes, but when I jump up and limbs go out they fly off into the room! Lol. Anyways onto a fun and light post for Easter Sunday. And Happy Easter to you all by the way. 🙂

Lois @LoisReadsBooks felt like doing a book tag so she went ahead and found and completed this one. I thought it was such a good idea I decided to go ahead and do it myself! Yeah! Thanks Lois!

20 Questions Book Tag

How many books are too many for a series?
  • I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought about whether or not there can be too many in advance. On the other hand I most certainly have watched some movies (*clear my throat* Fast and the Furious) that should have ended many movies ago. I’ve also seen some shows that were awesome the first season or two then started to feel kind of watered down. So I’ll say I’m totally fine with three, and I might get nervous about more than that.
How do you feel about cliffhangers?
  • I really enjoy cliffhangers when they’re done well. What’ s done well? When a book ends on a cliffhanger without any plans for another book I’m often not happy. Once in a while you’ll find a story that does this well but usually I don’t like it. If you know there’s going to be another book I’m cool with it, I expect it but I also want a big reveal. Meaning to me a good story gives you something that you’ve been reading to find out all along. Maybe they don’t give you the big big reveal (is Raymond Reddington in the show Blacklist Elizabeth’s father? They have long since revealed the answer btw but it wasn’t after the first season), but they provide you with other big answers that you’ve been asking throughout the book. To leave me with few answers but a cliffhanger? Oh no…
Hardback or paperback?
  • Hm…both? Hardback feels so official and yet paperbacks are lighter and cost a lot less. So hardback, or hardcover books are sexy let’s say but you don’t want to wear a cocktail dress all the time.
Favorite book?
  • I don’t love favorite least favorite questions, mostly because I have a bad memory and a really hard time making solid decisions, committing to ONE answer. Lol. A series I really really like and might be a favorite is Wool by Hugh Howey. I highly recommend that series. I’m going to leave it there although….nope…moving on…
Least favorite book?
  • Well can I pick a book I DNF’d? Maybe that’s not fair… Oh well among my least favorites is a book I DNF’d after receiving it as part of a giveaway. The book is Downdrift. I was super excited to read this book which made it that much more of a let down when I found it to be extremely uninteresting. I tried hard to get into it and felt guilty giving up on it, but clearly it wasn’t for me.
Love triangles, yes or no?
  • More often than not, no. I’ll likely stray from a book when I hear there’s a love triangle involved.
The most recent book you COULDN’T finish?
  • I almost couldn’t finish Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. It was better than the above named DNF’d book but it just drug on and on and on. However I finished it. Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) I’ve apparently been reading since oh I don’t know, last year, early last year maybe? It’s not bad but it’s just not as interesting as I thought I remembered the first two to be. Maybe too I’ve been reading a lot of other fantasy books that make this one less than interesting. I still plan to finish it, plus I have the last two books in this series (unless there’s been more published I don’t know about). Everfair was probably the last book I DNF’d, so the most recent one but that was last year as well.
What are you currently reading?
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What’s the last book you recommended to someone?
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Oldest book you’ve read by publication date?
  • Oh gosh to be honest I don’t even know. I’m skipping this, sorry. 😉
Newest book you’ve read by publication date?
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Favorite author?
  • Geez, another one of these favorite questions 😛 I really enjoy Hugh Howey’s work, he’s a very talented writer (although I don’t even know what he’s been up to!). Michelle Baker, Deborah Harkness, really enjoy some of their books too. Oh and I really like Maggie Stiefvater as well.
Buying books or borrowing books?
  • I don’t know why, sure I do, but I feel embarrassed saying I like to buy books. Not that I do that A LOT but I like going to bookstores or even just receiving a new book. I also don’t visit the library a whole lot. I’ve been there for research but I’m not good about making a list of books I want to read and then going and getting them. I would say I’ll change this, but quarantine tells me I won’t for a long time.
A book you dislike but everyone seems to love?
Bookmarks or dog-ears?
  • I’m laughing thinking about all the people who are going to cringe, and I think they’re going to cringe because I’ve heard/read other people answer this question. I dog-ear. *Catches book thrown by invisible person.* Look I’m sorry, not sorry. I don’t have enough bookmarks nearby me when I want to save a page to come back to whether it’s because they did something right or bad. If the book wasn’t mine, I wouldn’t dog-ear. Funny story, I lent a book to my aunt once, with loads of dog-ears. When I got it back I was so confused because I could have sworn I’d dog-eared a lot of pages. I asked her later about it and she nonchalantly said she’d bent them all back. Lol…
A book you can ALWAYS re-read?
  • I don’t re-read. I’m sure there are some I would like to but I don’t. There’s too many books out there that I’ve never read for me to read books I’ve already read. That said I could probably read Wool by Hugh Howey (sci-fi) again.
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Can you read while listening to music?
  • Sometimes I have the radio or the TV playing in the background but I don’t think it does me any good. It distracts me more than not, but I also like the sound around me.
One POV or multiple?
  • Both. I think multiple points-of-view can be awesome when done well.
Do you like to read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
  • I wish I could read a book in one sitting! That would be SO great! 😀
Who do you tag?

Folks if you’ve already done this tag and I am clearly unaware of that fact I apologize in advance. And if you’d be so kind to send me your link to said post I’d love to read it!

There you have it! Feel free to ask me anymore questions or comment on my answers, or even do your own 20 Questions Book Tag post and link back to me. I’ll gladly stop by.

Have a great start to your week everyone. I hope you’re staying well and healthy.

February TBR Additions 2020

Hello again all you fine people. I am here as promised to bring you my February TBR Additions 2020. Perhaps you’ve already read my January TBR Additions list also posted this week (well Sunday). That was a really long list and I thank you for reading it. If you haven’t, know that even though it’s very long it’s also really interesting because the books are quite varied, in my humble opinion that is. This list is not short – there’s 16 books – but it’s not as long as that one (26 books). ***It’s not 20 books because I added four just before midnight. Here I thought it was the 1st already. 😉

As always, I thank you for riding along and sharing any thoughts you might have of this list. Do not be afraid – do be kind and respectful – to tell me if you think a book is bad or yuck it doesn’t appeal to you. You will not hurt my feelings. In fact I’d be interested in picking your brain about the matter assuming such a discussion can be done without spoilers. 😉 That said, let’s get to it!

  • The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood – fiction, dystopia
    • I love the podcast The Garrett, hosted by Astrid Edwards. It’s an Australian based podcast. She interviews so many interesting authors, diverse authors, and they’re really good interviews. Astrid, you’re great. I recommend this podcast for sure. Recently I heard the interview with Charlotte Wood and actually made a note, I believe I was waiting in line at the grocery store and added it on Goodreads right there. 😉 I think that’s a beautiful cover too.
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  • Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara – fiction, mystery
    • I discovered this book thanks to an NPR interview. The author, a journalist, was talking about the outrageous fact that in India 150 children go missing A DAY. The vast majority of these young people are forced into some kind of labor, like working in people’s homes and sex work among others. She said it’s not well reported on or managed so she decided to write a novel about it, her debut in fiction. Her protagonist is a young boy. She chose a child so as to take the edge off the story from time to time.
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  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – mystery, thriller
    • I think this is the first in a long time for which I can say I heard of from another person in person! Lol. I was at a family member’s birthday party when I got to chatting with an older woman I’d just met. She told me her book club read this book (a debut novel) and loved it. She said they were split down the middle in terms of predicting how it ended.
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  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner – classics, fiction
    • I found that my grandmother and/or great-grandmother (don’t know whose copy it was) had an old copy of this book and well, it appeals to me so I think I’ll give it a shot, one day. 😉
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  • Mr. Sagittarius by M.J. Mallon – poetry, photography, fiction
    • I think it was thanks to Carrot Ranch and a blog tour? Oh shoot I’m sorry I didn’t put this information in my notes. But this is a new a poetry, prose and photography collection by Indie author M.J. Mallon. Interestingly enough my poetry has photography mixed throughout it but no prose, however we clearly have similar interests in that respect. Anywho, I’m excited to be able to support a fellow Indie Author.
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  • Can You See Me? by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott – children’s middle grade, contemporary
    • C.G. Drews (author and blogger) over at Paper Fury talks about this book in one of her latest posts. The blurb on Goodreads says this book is for fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio. While I haven’t read Wonder I’m interested in reading this “coming-of-age story about learning to celebrate yourself…”. Ann M. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign said, “This glimpse into the world of a young autistic girl is astonishingly insightful and honest. Tally’s struggles to ‘fit in’ are heart-wrenching, and her victories are glorious.” This is fiction but it is own-voice in that Libby Scott is a young autistic author and this story is inspired by her experiences.
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  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl – Audible Audio edition – fantasy
    • So this is kind of a funny story. I told you before that Audible just had a sale on many series; each book in the respective series was marked down. I saw this and believed it was one I’d added to my TBR this year. I know I’ve heard of this before and it’s hugely popular. This series has two books and they’re long, so good candidates for Audible books I thought.
    • Low and behold, this series was not already on my TBR; I was somehow confusing it with The Lies of Locke Lamora I’d heard of from Inside my Library Mind and SilverWolfReads in January. Lol, well they’re added now!
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  • The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2) by Patrick Rothfuss, narrated by Nick Podehl – Audible Audio edition – fantasy, epic fantasy
    • The sequel to the above book. The one downside and/or upside depending how you see it, to Audible editions is I wind up reading/listening to books I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up so soon. But hey this book has 392,856 ratings on Goodreads with a 4.57 star rating. It was published in 2011. Wow!
    • AND Nnedi Okorafor, an author I follow, the woman who wrote Binti, speaks highly of this series on Goodreads. 😉
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  • The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenny Lyons – epic fantasy
    • Okay, so, I’m listening to this book on Audible right now and IT’S AWESOME. It’s really long, certainly an epic like Lord of the Rings but well worth the time. Here’s the thing, I did not know this was a series! Last night I was just browsing browsing, clicked on Jenn Lyons and there you go, there’s more! Then I saw there’s actually a third!!! Wow. So I don’t know that the Audible version is available for the 2nd as it just came out October 2019 but I’ll keep an eye out.
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Wow, okay that’s it. Phew! Twenty-six books added in January and 20 added in February bringing my Goodreads’ TBR to 336! Holy moly, I think I need to slow down on adding books but then how will I remember new finds? Maybe I need to cull my list as many other bloggers have, at least review it to see if I’m really still interested in all these books. God knows I don’t have the time to get through all the books I want, especially not with my own novel on the fire! What do you think about this list?

And as I said in my January TBR Additions 2020 post:

It’s super important to me to give credit where credit’s due. So I try to make a point to take notes when I’m reading other people’s blogs or listening to podcasts (I’m not as good with the latter). Whenever I actually do take notes, be it NPR interviews, blogs, podcasts, talking to people, I will certainly mention it when I mention my interest in the book (assuming I find the notes 😉 ). It’s really a great practice to tip your hat to others and their efforts to spread the word about books they like. Not only does it help the authors of these books, but it also helps other bloggers and podcasters. So I ask humbly please, if you discover books thanks to my blog – lists like this one – that you give me a little shout out. Thanks in advance!

January TBR Additions

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Well how are you today? Not too shabby over here. I’m working on blog stuff so I’m in a happy place. Reading is a funny thing you know? But even more so is the hobby of collecting books. I’ve always loved the idea of collecting things although admittedly I’m not such a good collector. Of course it comes as no surprise that it started in childhood with toys (My Little Pony, Breyer Horses, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket, Marvel collector cards, the list goes on). I didn’t have grand collections of all these things (I wished!) but I LOVED looking at the catalogues of all the toys that were out there and the new stuff, gah, so wonderful.

When it comes to books I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a collector. I guess you might say I am because I don’t exactly get rid of books I’ve read, and I’ve got a boat load of old books from relatives. Compared to other book bloggers though and what I’ve read in their posts, I am not a book collector. Hats off to you who love your various editions – lots of people collect multiple copies of books that are each a different edition – but I can’t wrap my head around having more than one copy of a book. Alas, I get it, I feel the love you have for your collections. I once had a fabulous collection of Orchids (most died from brown rot) and I will slowly but surely rebuild for I am at heart an Orchid collector.

Anyways, I shall move on with this post and get to the point. While I might not be a true book collector, I do love me some TBR action! I like discovering new books and adding them to my TBR. Then I like going through my TBR and seeing all the covers; it’s like a mini version of going to a bookstore or the library and seeing all THOSE BOOKS! It goes without saying, TBR posts can be fun to create (sometimes daunting too). My question to whomever is reading this, do you enjoy TBR posts? Do you enjoy seeing what other book blogger/reader people are interested in reading?

Last time I left you guys with a three part TBR additions post (Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, Part 3 HERE). That encompassed Fall & Winter additions since I was behind. I’ll admit I was a little burned out after those posts so I’m behind again, but it’s all good. Today I bring to you: January TBR Additions.

***As I was building this post I realized what I kind of already knew/remembered, that this is going to be really long. Therefore, February TBR Additions will be its own post following on the heels of this one for January. But read on because there’s loads of different books here you might not have seen elsewhere and plenty you have. The book’s title is linked to the book’s Goodreads’ page (for more information).

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January TBR Additions

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Trevor Noah – non-fiction/memoir
    • I first heard of Trevor Noah as many of us did, when it was announced he was taking over The Daily Show for Jon Stewart. I’ve since become a fan (not that I watch the show much). What tipped me to the book was an interview with him on NPR. And of course the audio version sounds great since he’s the narrator, talk about own voices.
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  • The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Joe Morton – fiction, historical fiction, magical realism
    • Honestly, I can’t recall the first time I heard of this book but I’m pretty sure it was through a podcast. Since then I’ve heard about it all over the place, including Oprah. I’m going for Audible version because it’s a book available through it.
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  • No Walls and the Recurring Dream by Ani DiFranco – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Ani DiFranco – non-fiction/memoir
    • I used to listen to folk singer Ani DiFranco quite a bit, over 10 years ago. I fell off mainly because my life changed, my directions changed. Recently I’ve gone back to some of her songs (like Little Plastic Castle). But I saw mention of her new book in an article, maybe newspaper (?), and thought it sounded interesting. And of course seeing it on Audible narrated by herself, I had to go that route. Cool cover, ironically similar to the last.
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  • A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews – contemporary, YA
    • SilverWolfReads mentioned The Boy Who Steals Houses in her post HERE. She raved about this author so I had to at least look into C.G. Drews. I’m not sure I want to read The Boy Who Steals Houses but I’m intrigued and going to check this one out.
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  • Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh Bardugo – Fantasy
    • Another appealing book thanks to SilverWolfReads. We might do a buddy read one of these days, not for this one but something. She mentioned it to me recently and I must get back to her. I’ve never done any buddy reads (well I did with my great-aunt), but I think it’d be fun. 😀
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  • The Never Tilting World (The Never Tilting World, #1) by Rin Chupeco – Fantasy, YA
    • Yup another one thanks to SilverWolfReads. I was thinking maybe I’d read back through blurbs for all these books and remind myself (so I can share with you) what interested me most about these books but do I have time? Ugh…I should do it first thing…perhaps next time, this list is long enough.
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  • Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle, #1) by Adam Silvera – Fantasy, YA
    • Yet another shout-out to SilverWolfReads at the aforementioned link. Yes these were all in one post of hers as well. I like this cover quite a bit too.
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  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Fantasy
    • Much like the previous book I added this after SilverWolfReads post but I’d heard of it many times before. Sometimes I stray away from popular books just because they’re popular. And I wasn’t immediately sold on it. Sounded cool but I have SO MANY books on my TBR. Well okay people are raving and raving, let’s do it. (And I just saw YouTube video by Destiny at Howling Libraries in which she mentions the sequel to this and how she has to get to it.)
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  • Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse – Audible Audio edition, narrated by Tanis Parenteau – fantasy, post-apocalyptic
    • I added this book because I listened to the first one – read my review of Trail of Lightning HERE – and LOVED it. Having listened to that I had to listen to this. But this is the book SilverWolfReads had picked up though she hadn’t read the first. I find myself putting off listening to this because…um, hm…I guess I feel like maybe it’s too soon to go right back and then have it be over! And sometimes it feels right to explore around since I know I’m coming back here.
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  • Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac, translated by Roy Kesey – fiction, sci-fi
    • This book and many that follow are more books I found thanks to LitHub’s The Bookseller’s Year in Reading Part 1-3. I’ve linked you to Part 1 and you can go from there. But my 2019 TBR New Additions Part 1-3 consist of a lot of books from this list (I also link you here to my own Part 1). What’s here is me finally finishing those articles. I’m excited that most of these books I’ve never heard of and they’re pretty representative, across genre, culture, geography and more. I might have to be more intentional in picking different books from my TBR (when the time comes).
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  • The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams – historical fiction
    • Fictionophile writes “Cover Love” posts in which she posts lists of books with regards to their covers. She directed me to some older versions of her posts and I found a bunch of books I really like. For example, she did a post about covers she liked that had birds…thus these that follow. By the way, I did read the blurb after I found the cover appealing and then added them. 😉
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  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – historical fiction
    • Inside My Library Mind wrote an interesting post titled If You Liked This, Try This. And that’s where this book and few others come from. She said if you like this one (below) try Cala by Laura Legge. Well the latter didn’t interest me but this one did.
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  • Inkheart (Inkworld, #1) by Cornelia Funke, translated by Anthea Bell – fantasy, YA
    • Here’s another book thanks to Inside My Library Mind’s post linked to above. This was one in which she says if you like this try The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Well I have already added the latter so, why not this one too? Though I’ve read neither. 😉
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  • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1) by N.K. Jemisin – fantasy
    • Inside My Library Mind then wrote a post, 2020 TBR Backlist, and here she listed this gem. Mind you this is not the first I’ve heard of N.K. Jemisin, no she is mentioned all over the place. In fact, I just learned that she is the first author ever to win a HUGO award three years in a row and for books of the same series. Translation, all three of the books in this series won Hugo awards.
    • These books were just on sale, all three, at Audible. I so badly wanted to get them but Patrick Rothfus’ duology was also on sale, there’s two of those, they’re huge apparently and I can’t buy all five. I was tempted but I sighed and did the right thing and only bought the two Rothfus books. Plus I couldn’t decide if I should READ and see the words on the pages of N.K. Jemisin’s work.
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  • Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – fantasy
    • You might recall that my review of Sarah Beth Durst’s last book, The Deepest Blue, was kind of harsh. I was disappointed, I’m sorry. But don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Sarah Beth Durst. I’m still hoping she keeps writing in the world she introduced us to in her series The Queens of Renthia. And her book Lost (not related to any of these) is fabulous; I was so sad to discover she will not be publishing the second but there’s a chance it’ll be made for TV. That said, this book is her latest adult fantasy, I think available April 2020, and it sounds awesome. Not to mention the cover is beautiful. I’m in!
    • Here’s a piece of the blurb from Goodreads: an imaginative new world in which a pair of strong and determined women risk their lives battling injustice, corruption, and deadly enemies in their quest to become monster racing champions.
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  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – historical fiction
    • Yet another from Inside My Library Mind’s above post link. Colson Whitehead’s writing reputation precedes him and this book, meaning he’s another author I’ve heard a number of times.
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Oh my gosh we made it! You’re still here right? Phew, that’s great, thank you so much. What do you think? Have you or do you plan to read any of these? Will you now?

It’s super important to me to give credit where credit’s due. So I try to make a point to take notes when I’m reading other people’s blogs or listening to podcasts (I’m not as good with the latter). Whenever I actually do take notes, be it NPR interviews, blogs, podcasts, talking to people, I will certainly mention it when I mention my interest in the book (assuming I find the notes 😉 ). It’s really a great practice to tip your hat to others and their efforts to spread the word about books they like. Not only does it help the authors of these books, but it also helps other bloggers and podcasters. So I ask humbly please, if you discover books thanks to my blog – lists like this one – that you give me a little shout out. Thanks in advance!

And thank you again and again for following along with this long post. I hope I was able to add to your list or poke your brain. I’d love to hear what you think. And stay tuned because I’m going to post February TBR Additions this week as well. 😀 Then we’ll be caught up!

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My Review of Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor, narrated by Steve West

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Audible Audio edition

Info from Goodreads:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

Audible Audio – Published March 28 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton

My Review

Ok how do I rate this after being so conflicted at the beginning? Easy!!!

5/5 stars

I discovered this book thanks to SilverWolfReads and her giant book haul from her trip to NYC. I believe I added these in June 2019, you can find these additions in TBR New Additions Part 1. There are a whole host of other books I added to my TBR thanks to her blog, including Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse which I listened to before this book and loved. That moved a lot faster from the start and made it that much more difficult to survive Strange the Dreamer’s slow start. But thanks so much for sharing what you read!!!

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Funny thing is I’m listening to the last chapter as I write this or at least start writing this. That’s how impressed I am with where this story went and ended. Some endings can change how you feel about the whole story, be it book or movie. I saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and was all wrapped up in it until…the ending. Then I was pissed because I did not think it was a satisfying end to such a movie. This book however just kept getting better and better.

In my post Currently Reading (which will change as my reading does) in January/early February, you might have read that I was not enjoying the beginning of this book. Here’s what I said:

I’m in about Chapter 10 I think? So far I’m disappointed because this book is taking so long to be interesting. Lazlo, the main character (MC), really feels flat to me at this point. Given the number of roaring reviews I’ve discovered there to be (saw, didn’t read just glazed over a few) I have faith that this book improves but if I was given an ultimatum I’d be tempted to DNF this.

You know a book is taking too long to really grab you when you almost forget you’re actually supposed to be paying attention to what you’re listening to and you struggle to want to.

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I wish I could remember exactly what chapter it was that changed things for me. I know what happened in the story that did it but I don’t want to tell you anything more than what the summary from Goodreads does. My reviews will not contain any more of a summary than that because I don’t want to spoil the story. Some people like the standard review in which people provide their own summary, the kind we were taught in school. However, I have found that I don’t usually want to know too much more because I like the surprise of discovering the details myself. I know that people warn you if they’ll be spoilers but sometimes just knowing too much before you start is a spoiler, not unlike a movie trailer that shows you all the best parts of the movie.

For instance – the following example is made up and has nothing to do with this book – let’s say a summary tells you the story is about a mystical mountain covered in fog all year long except for two weeks in the summer. No one has visited the mountain ever since a hiking party of 10 disappeared save one individual who came back mute and blind. But then a small boy gets lost, last seen walking in his sleep towards the mountain. Who will brave the mystery to find him? Then let’s say I write a review that doesn’t “contain spoilers” per se, but I tell you that the people have rumored there’s a herd of magical ponies that live midway up and that’s what they’re afraid of. That might be a common detail but you wouldn’t have known until you read the story or someone’s review. I wouldn’t have minded discovering the ponies for myself like a fun little prize in my cereal box; I know it’s in there but if my brother gets it out and shows me, the surprise is done.

That said how I feel about the book now does not change how I feel about the beginning. Don’t like, not gonna like it but this story is a testament to the power of word of mouth. Were I any less patient with books, quicker to DNF I would have quit this early on. But I can thank all you lovely fellow readers out there for letting us know it gets better because HECK YEAH it does!

It took a long time for me to get into Lazlo as well. I still think he kind of feels flat, not the most dynamic and fleshed out of characters, in my humble opinion but he grew on me. There are other characters that appeal to me and appeal to me more. But I can almost promise you (almost because I don’t know you so I could be wrong) that once this story gets going you’ll find it hard to resist.

I respect Laini Taylor’s creativity and imagination. This book could do without a lot of the information – IMHO – especially in the beginning but the story (I think I’ve said that enough) as a whole is emotionally intense and magical with themes true to real life. You might start off uninterested or less than interested but you reach a point where you have to know what happens next. Then you can’t put it down or push pause. The progression this story takes is like climbing a mountain, once you get to the top it is breathtaking. There’s plenty of tension and mystery, wonder and perceived terror. And there is heart ache and super cool twists and turns. Yes there is violence and talk of horrible acts, including rape and murder. However, I absolutely recommend this story and will without a doubt continue with this series. The next book is Muse of Nightmares (Strange the Dreamer, #2).

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While I can’t complain about the beginning enough, I also can’t tell you enough how much I like the ending. Great cliffhanger but also so grating! AH! Laini, you have a new fan. 😉

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Hardcover edition (cover)

Have you read this? Are you planning to? Let me know if I introduced you to this book or tipped the scales for you, maybe even give me a nod on your own blog if that applies. Giving credit to my fellow bloggers, aka sources, when they’ve introduced me to a book or books is super important to me. I do my best to take notes when I add books thanks to them. In fact I have a unpublished post draft that is just for notes of this kind.

Thanks for your visit, please come again! Follow me if you like what you’ve read here and elsewhere because there’s plenty more to come. 😀

2020 Currently Reading

Okay instead of having my TBR page (like I did in 2019) telling you what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I plan to read this year, I’m going to have this post “sticky”. Here, always found at the top of my blog, you’ll see what I’m currently reading and/or listening to and what I just read. If I know for sure I’ll tell you what’s next. There might also be some notes about how I’m feeling while reading/listening. Feel free to comment.

Currently Reading/Listening to:

  • Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – Hardcover – YA, fantasy, children’s middle grade
    • Just started this 8 May after finishing Lagoon by the same author. I’m about 3-4 chapters in and interested. The main character is a young albino girl born in New York City to Nigerian parents who moved back to Nigeria. She gets bullied and makes new friends, so far and there’s something going on, something different about these kids. Even though Sunny gets bullied for being albino, which some in their culture affiliate with witches, she is touch and sassy. It’s great.
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  • The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons, narrated by Saskia MaarleveldDan BittnerLauren Fortgang – Audible audio version – Adult Epic Fantasy
    • I actually started this at the very beginning of May. I think the third book comes out this fall so I decided I should go ahead with this.
    • So far I don’t love that the main narrator is new, well different from the last book. I get it, it’s someone else reading the story of what happened but from an audio book perspective it isn’t great to now hear your main character with a totally different voice. That said I’m enjoying it, four chapters in. Looks like this book is going to be a lot more about dragons than the first.
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  • Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson – harcover – nonfiction, graphic novel
    • This is a cute but interesting little book. I’ve read half of it so far. I appreciate the light-hearted nature of this book though the subject is something very serious. I do recommend it to anyone with anxiety or who knows someone with anxiety. It’s nice to laugh while relating about something that’s not so funny, and sometimes drop a tear to know I’m not alone when feeling X.
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  • Thick: and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom – Hardcover
    • This find is thanks to the podcast Reading Women. Do check out my page about the podcasts I listen to, mostly about reading and/or writing. Those lovely women raved about this book. There have been others talking about it as well and then I saw it on display at a local bookstore. I said okay, let’s go, you’re coming with me. It’s been looking at me ever since and well, today I figured what the heck, they’re essays so I can read them as I please. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to seeing the life of a person so different than me through their lens.

I desperately need to finish Voyage of the Basilisk – The Memoirs of Lady Trent #3 by Marie Brennan (started, oh, forever ago last year). So I’m kind of also currently still reading that though admittedly I keep forgetting about it…hm…what does that say about this series that I’ve liked but…ugh…

Recently Finished:

  • Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – Hardcover – sci-fi/fantasy, first contact
    • Got another five-star read here! As I write this this was my most recent finish and it was great. Very unique and original first contact story that takes place in Lagos, Nigeria. I recommend this book and this author. To read my review CLICK HERE.
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  • Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World, #2) by Rebecca Roanhorse, narrated by Tanis Parenteau – audible audio book – Fantasy, post-apocalyptic
    • Awesome fast-paced story. I think it was even better than the first, not that the first was less than but rather this adds to what was already built there. Definitely a five-star read/listen. I really like listening to Tanis Parenteau read this story as well.
    • In this story you get new scenery as well as some really cool new characters. I highly recommend this story though I will be anxiously awaiting the 3rd book. The author says on Goodreads that she has two more books planned for this series, four total. HECK YEAH! 😀
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  • Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – paperback
    • I don’t typically read contemporary fiction but this sounded interesting to me in part because of the mental health aspect. One of the main characters, one of the sisters, has a mental illness. One hundred pages in I’m intrigued even if it’s not my usual fare. So I’ll be mulling this over with a different set of eyes.
    • Update: I really enjoyed this book and gave it 5 stars. This story is intense and emotional. Read my Review HERE.
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  • What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra – hardcover
    • I’ll have to get back to you on how I heard of this book because I’m certain I heard it from a blogger or podcaster. I went right ahead and bought a copy and I’m really happy I did. My jaunt into long, long books, audio and one paperback, has been great (I am still listening to The Name of the Wind, epic fantasy), has left me satisfied, dissatisfied and longing for a shorter more fast-paced story. And I found it here. I’m about 60 some odd pages in and really really enjoying it.
    • I like the little insert pages that seem to imitate copies of letters, notes, and articles. They add to the story and are unique. There’s a lot of mystery here both to the reader and the main character. I don’t see this being a disappointment. I’ll bet it’s a 4-5 star reader, not ready to commit to 5 yet. 😉
    • And I finished it in just over a week (I think that’s good, at least for me). Yeah! I am going ahead with a 5-star rating. There’s not currently a sequel but from the sounds of it it’s not out of the question.
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  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss – Audible audio book, narrated by Nick Podehl
    • I won’t get into how this was an accidental purchase, because I do somewhere else. But here we have another epic fantasy. It reminds me a lot of Lord of the Rings. My patience for long long long stories is just not there. This is a good and interesting story, for sure, well-written and all that. But it’s really super long and probably, again I say this, wouldn’t be hurt if a lot of scenes were cut out or cut down.
    • All in all it’s no where near DNF, but when I think about how everyone complains that the third book in this series (this first book published in 2007!) has not yet even been ANNOUNCED, I get nervous. What if I love these first two and have to just sit empty handed? Okay maybe not empty-handed because I have so many books to read. Stay tuned…
    • Update: This story certainly is epic. It’s long and it’s very well-written. I give it four and half stars only because it’s SO DARN LONG. It’s great sure, think Lord of the Rings like I said before. The characters are dynamic and distinct. I could see and feel the events as they happened. But it really takes us through IT ALL. Lol. I do recommend it. I’m really glad I went with the audible version. The narrator puts on a great performance, different voices and all.
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Some of What I’ve Read this Year

  • Lady Midnight (Dark Artifices, #1) by Cassandra Clare – Paperback
    • This has been on my list since March of 2019. Ms. Victorious over at Victorious Pages is how I came across The Dark Artifices but I know I’ve also seen it elsewhere. I happened to see it for sale at Barnes & Noble, knew it was on my list and well I had to take a good deal. 😉
    • I’m about halfway through. It’s interesting. Cassandra Clare is a talented writer however this isn’t really my speed. So much time is spent on the day to day of the characters it just feels too drawn out. In my opinion this book would not have suffered from being shaved down. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m reading this and listening to Strange, the Dreamer, both books that…are…d.r.a.g.g.i.n.g. Maybe I should put ellipses in between each of those letters…
    • Upon finishing: I will not be continuing this series at this time. There are some sample chapters at the end of the book for the next in this series, the first in the ShadowHunters series, and the first book about the characters Tessa & Jem. Of those samples I almost like the first in the whole series but for now I’m moving on.
    • I give this book a 3 because I do not like the pacing. There’s a lot of repetitive thinking going on in terms of character relationships. By this a mean, a lot of talking about how much one character cares for another though we already know this. This is a character driven book, even then I think it would be better served with a little bit more weight put on the overall plot, the thing that keeps it moving. The reason it doesn’t really feel like it moves enough for me.
  • The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons, #1) by Jenn Lyons, Audible Audio edition narrated by Feodor Chin, Vikas Adam, Soneela Nankani
    • So I went back through my notes to see how I found this book. It does not appear I learned of it through any book bloggers. Honestly I don’t know how I found this book! I think she was on a podcast but I can’t find the one. It could have also been NPR but I don’t think so. Maybe it was a fellow blogger and I didn’t write it down…? Ugh…notes are great…
    • This is an epic fantasy, which means it’s a really big book. Which is also part of the reason I chose to listen to it: not a heavy book and much cheaper because I used the book “credit” I get from audible for the month. I’m in Chapter 26 and still have 19 hours to go. So if you need a big long story, here you go.
    • It is a long drawn out storytelling that’s for sure. But I don’t say drawn out in a bad way. It’s getting more and more interesting. I won’t be surprised if in the end I say it could have done without being this long but we’ll see. So far I like it, not super in love with it, but it’s cool. 😀
    • Upon finishing: What I said above came to be, I really liked this book. However, I don’t feel that it would necessarily be served by cutting it down. This is a journey and taking the journey makes for a complete story. Could some sections have been shorter and the story still great? Sure thing. But it’s still an excellent book. I’m giving it 4 stars. I do recommend it and I will continue with the series THAT I DIDN’T KNOW WAS A THING! 🙂
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  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor , narrated by Steve West- Audible audio book
    • [Here’s what I said before:] I’m in about Chapter 10 I think? So far I’m disappointed because this book is taking so long to be interesting. Lazlo, the main character (MC), really feels flat to me at this point. Given the number of roaring reviews I’ve discovered there to be (saw, didn’t read just glazed over a few) I have faith that this book improves but if I was given an ultimatum I’d be tempted to DNF this.
    • You know a book is taking too long to really grab you when you almost forget you’re actually supposed to be paying attention to what you’re listening to and you struggle to want to.
    • This book I found thanks to SilverWolfReads after her trip to NYC and her giant book haul. Please do visit her blog (click the link above) and read my review of this book. I most recently finished this book & after what I’ve said above you’ll be surprised to know I’m rating this 5/5 stars.

We’re just getting into May and the sun is shining more and more. This last month has been pretty good for reading. However, as the weather warms I won’t be inside as much but I will need to get some sun – time to read and write – and I’ll be doing yard work which is conducive to listening to audio books and podcasts. 😀

A little while ago I wrote a post for anticipated reading among other things. I’ve since finished some of those, altered plans a little bit and added on to it.

Reading Plans for May & June

  • At the time of writing I’ve just started Akata Witch (see above). I was going to read the first then some V.E. Schwab but since I already have Akata Warrior I will read that immediately following Akata Witch.
  • After those two I’ll start A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (finally 😉 ).
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  • I don’t know what I’ll listen to when I’m finished with The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) but I have The Wise Man’s Fear (sequel to The Name of the Wind), The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow;
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  • Let’s see what else? Hmm… do you think I should just read A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy in a row? I also have Planetfall by Emma Newman on my mind and Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward. Any thoughts?

I really love engaging with folks in comments. I’d love to hear what you think about this list and I really thank you for taking the time to read this.

Stay safe & well!

Talk from the TBR Table

I feel like this is a really fun title that I’ll maybe use more than once. 😉 For sure! How ya doin? Having a good week so far?

This post is inspired by Lois over at LoisReadsBooks. She made a post about books from her TBR that have been there a long time and that she plans to finally read this year. Heck yeah go Lois! Click the link above to visit her two-part post. 😀 Blogger love!

Her post got me thinking that it would be in my best interest to revisit my TBR and commit to read some books that have been on there a long time. Now this isn’t new in the world of book blogging at all. In fact Destiny @Howling Libraries does something to this effect with a fancy methodology and all. She calls it TBR Lows & Highs. Sofi @A Book. A Thought loved what Destiny was doing so much she’s also taken up that method for cleaning the TBR. I quite like it really, you ought to check it out, but I think for now I’m gonna keep the cleaning simple. Over at Life Inside My Library Mind she put together a 2019 TBR Backlist, a simple list of 12 books from her backlist that she’s been meaning to read. There are others I follow who work through their backlists or try, and who wouldn’t want to? (Um all of us distracted by all the new shiny stuff…duh.)

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At the end of the day, I liked Lois’ version straight to the point, pick some books, let’s tackle these. However I am still going to be cognizant of my acceptance that I do not read very fast or as often during the warmer months (we’ll see this year!). So I will resist the urge to make a super long post about the books from long ago TBR that I’m going to read. Alas….I behave…

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This is a really great reason (excuse) to browse my TBR and just look at all the beautiful books I have imagined reading. I look forward to the process although not really the decision making. Why’s that? Oh decisions and I have a love/hate relationship and I plan to keep the list under five. What? I already said I am not a fast reader. Even though audio books mean I will certainly hear a book a month there’s only so much money I can spend on books. I know, it’s rough. 😉

Here we go. Afer meeting my brain mates (all me) at the TBR boardroom table I’ve decided on these five books. These are books I added a long time ago and will read some time this year. I’ll tell you the book, when I added it, why (if I know or recall), and why I’m choosing it now. Oh and click on the title to visit the book’s Goodreads page. (In no particular order)

1. The Best of It: New and Selected Poems by Kay Ryan

Published in 2010 – Poetry

I added it September 2012

Kay Ryan’s poetry appeals to me because she packs a punch with few words. I was so impressed with her talent in brevity, I think it’s admirable skill.

It’s been a long time since I’ve even read poetry and this is a great place to start. That’s why I’m going to pick this up this year and read it, preferably sooner than later.

2. Borderline (Anna Pigeon, #15) by Nevada Barr

Published in 2009 – Mystery

I added it in March 2013

I used to read Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series as much as I could years ago then I stopped reading fiction for about five years. When I got back to reading Anna & Nevada were much farther down the road and I never got back on the horse.

Disclaimer: I might wind up with a different book in this series once I really figure out where I left off but this was what I had on my TBR so we’ll start there for now. I would like to check back in with this mystery/thriller because I remember really enjoying it although they did tend to take a while to get into.

3. Bear Heart (Klawdia Book 1) by K.J. Colt

Published in 2013 – Fantasy

I added it in October 2014

I “met” (online) K.J. Colt through a Goodread’s group that was created to help self-published authors. It served the dual purpose of weeding out self-pubs that needed more work because, especially back then, self-pubs had a real bad rep among readers. So we shared out self-published works with each other by judging our covers, our blurbs and finally the books should they make it to that stage. It was a lot of fun but stirred up a load of controversy. Apparently the group’s founder received death threats and all kinds of nasty negative attention because of the group. On top of that countless people whined and cried about the constructive criticism they received and how their books weren’t chosen. I would expect you have some kind of thick (or thicker) skin if you’re going to be an artist and put your work out in the world but way too many people couldn’t handle being told they weren’t the brightest star in the class. For instance, someone was told they really needed to hire an editor. They got extremely emotional and cried that it wasn’t fair because they couldn’t afford an editor. Okay well then your book is going to have to wait. Stuff like that… anywho…

So K.J. Colt – who wasn’t yet a bestselling author, you go girl! – was one of the members of that group with her book Concealed Power (The Healers of Meligna, #1). I really did enjoy the series, well mostly Books 1 & 2 then things went a little downhill for my tastes and tolerances. I became quite critical of the last couple. That said I still really admire K.J. Colt for her talent and creativity. She invited me all those years ago to read Bear Heart and I never did (meant to I swear!). Klawdia is a kick-ass secondary female character in the Healers of Meligna series. This is her series and I really would like to venture in to it.

4. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Published in 2015 -Fantasy

I added it in April 2016

Well I maybe…nope I don’t remember how I first heard of this and her (the author), maybe from a podcast, maybe a fellow blogger, I don’t recall but I know loads of people are and have been talking about V.E. Schwab.

This year I’m going to finally read it because last year I got a sweet deal from bookoutlet.com on the whole trilogy. And well I need to get caught up on this woman’s work!

5. Barkskins by Annie Proulx

Published in 2016 – Historical fiction

I added in August 2016

You might already know that I love birds, they are my favorite class of organism. It should be more obvious than ironic then that I should also love plants. And whomever loves plants, fancies trees. I can’t say for sure but I may have found this through a Lithub.com article.

Going back through my TBR this book stuck out. Sure it isn’t fantasy but it sounds interesting regardless. I remember it sticking out to me back then, so let’s go ahead and venture there.

6. H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

Published in 2014 – Non-fiction/memoir

I added in August 2016

Well given the title and the cover image I think it should be obvious, I picked this book because it has something to do with birds. And the overall story – also in part about her training birds of prey – sounds intriguing. I don’t recall how I came across this book in the first place but when I did, done deal.

I know I said five books, I was only going to pick five, but this was right below Barkskins on my TBR list and I happen to own a physical copy of this already (thanks bookdepot.com) so why not? My thoughts exactly.

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There you have it. Six books from way down my TBR list on Goodreads that I plan to read this year. When and how, physical or audio, is yet to be determined (except those already owned physically, lol).

It almost feels hard to pick these to read when there are so many NEW books I’m discovering and adding. It’s like all these old ones lost their appeal because they’re not new to me anymore. How strange, they’re still a mystery to me! These are the only books I can tell you I’m going to read over the course of the year. Otherwise I’m not going to do seasonal TBRs anymore, just monthly, and those are going to be two books, a physical and an audio book. I know I can handle that. Any extras are bonus. Okay this is long enough. Stay tuned to see where I go… That’s it for Talk from the TBR Table!

Thanks so much for your time? Have you read any of these or want to? Are you doing any kind of backlist “work” or cleaning?

2019 TBR List New Additions Part 3

At first this list was going to include November and December additions. But then I saw just how many books I added in December. That month alone made up for all I didn’t add in the months before. Funny I say that as though I should be adding TONS and TONS of books all the time. That would be overwhelming. So 2019 TBR List New Additions Part 3 covers one month and you will agree it’s more than plenty.

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A lot of the books I found and added in December were thanks to The Bookseller’s Year in Reading from LitHub.com. In fact, I think all the books added in December were thanks to at least a couple of Lithub.com articles. That said here I’ve linked you to Part 3 of the above list so you can then find the links to Part 1 & 2. As I write this I’ve only read Part 1. Books I add from the other parts will be new additions for January.

I don’t recall all my sources for the rest of the books I added/found in December but if I do I will tell you. The titles of each book link back to its Goodreads’ page. If you’d like to first read my New Additions Part 1 CLICK HERE. If you’d like to then or first read New Additions Part 2 CLICK HERE. I encourage you to check them out and share your thoughts should you have any.

Let’s get started with my final 2019 TBR List New Additions.

December 2019 TBR List New Additions

  • The Overstory – Fiction by Richard Powers – this and above from article not list
  • The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry – non-fiction/essays by Wendell Berry – I found this on the Bookseller’s list however I heard of Wendell Berry in the spring from my great Uncle. I had every intention to look into this author thanks to him.
  • Underland – Non-fiction/science by Robert Macfarlane – This book was recommended by multiple booksellers.
  • Lanny – fiction/fantasy by Max Porter – I found this on the bookseller’s list however I first found it in another Lit Hub article months ago.
  • Lent – fantasy/historical fiction by Jo Walton
  • Birthday – fiction by Cesar Aira, translated by Chris Andrews
  • Morelia – fiction by Renee Gladman

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So there you have it, the last of the books I added to my TBR in 2019, in fact many were on the second to last day. Many of these books, more than I expected and would/will probably choose, are non-fiction. It’s not that I’m too cool or not cool enough for non-fiction it’s just that usually I have some go-to topics when it comes to real life stuff, but we’ll see. We’ll see what 2020 brings us. I was going to write about, very vaguely, what interested me in each book but that would take way too long. If I pick them up this year and read, perhaps that’ll be when I tell you what appealed to me, well at least I’ll try to remember or I’ll make up something about why it does now! 😉

Any of these books on your radar/TBR?

Thanks as always for visiting. Come back soon!

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